It was an AP article in the paper about bloggers advertising products. It kind of related to Ann's blog post of a week or two ago and was very interesting. I don't think it was the same article, but it was very similar. It discussed bloggers being sent products for review including paid bloggers. Seems there are issues with the FTC getting involved as well. I posted about this before, but will post again adding more thoughts on the issue.
Truth in Advertising. That's what it boils down to for me. What is the fine line between paid bloggers and infomercials on TV? We could say, "Well, I'm letting you know they paid me or sent this to me to review."
However, is there a psychological component to this? If a company sends a blogger something, does he or she feel in some way "obligated" to say something nice about the product? Perhaps like an unwanted gift that is received at Christmas? I mean, we thank the recipient and try to be all nice about it. But when everyone has gone, we can vent our true feelings to our family members. Does a blogger have a subconcious desire to say something nice out of...proper social etiquette?
I think I classify blogs two different ways--a business blog and a personal blog. I do not want my personal blog to be clouded by subconscious thoughts. And for me, it would be. I'd be thinking, "Well, Company X sent me this nice little product and although it's not my fave, maybe I should at least say *something* nice about it." Because, after all, they were nice enough to send me this complimentary gift. On a personal blog, I need to feel free. Unencumbered by any type of "loyalty" to any company, any product. If I mention a product and rave about it, it's because I REALLY like it and highly endorse it. From my personal viewpoint as a home sewer.
On a business blog, I simply would not review a product I didn't like. Even if Company X sent it to me for free. Working on the principle that if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it. I simply wouldn't promote a product I don't use, nor believe in. And of course, if I was given "compensation" or the product for free and raved about it, as other bloggers have stated, would let the reading public know up front. This is just plain, ethical behavior.
Ann's blog post was up front. You know she's the real deal and if she recommends something sent by company X, she let's you know that. She's one blogger I trust to let me know if a particular product might be worth my while to purchase it. The problem is, for the other thousands of bloggers out there that we don't know well enough to trust, where is the truth in advertising? When you read a person's blog and they rave about a product, it makes you wonder if there is some other underlying promotional factor going on--the "infomercial factor".
I don't like that. The cyberworld always has new issues cropping up and this is another annoyance for me. For the handful of bloggers that I trust, there are hundreds that make me question their praise and/or endorsement of product X and wonder if they're getting paid to promote.
Just a thought on this Mother's Day, 2009. And BTW, have a happy one!